So for my birthday on Sunday, July 24th Bert and I had decided to make good use of the free Antwerp Zoo tickets his brother had given us (they have an annual pass and every year they get some free tickets to give away).
Bert and I have never been tremendously keen on the Zoo, because we feel they spend more efford on visitor comfort than on animal comfort (things have gotten a little better over the year, but a lot still needs to happen).
But you know, free tickets are free tickets, and I quite wanted to see the butterfly garden, because I love photographing bugs.
So we took the train out and went to the butterfly garden first.
Yes those are all live butterflies, just chilling in a cool and darker grotto section of their garden :)
From there on we wandered past a sleepy koala and tree kangarou in sad cages to this really weird prehistoric cave system thing, which was huge and had a huge restaurant looking out on them. Only to end up in front of the SADDEST and SMALLEST giraffe pen I've ever seen, and the kind of buffalo opposite them wasn't much better off either :(
It's really shameful and disgusting that they'd rather construct utterly useless things than build nicer cages. Sure, there's a lot of construction going on and they claim some of the animals are getting a better cage, but they should have been the PRIORITY! Not an after thought.
They did have this cool random truck standing around.
We decided to have a look at freezeland (where the penguins live) and the aquarium.
I'm pretty sure this species was the model for Fishy from Max Steele.
We bumped into Bert's work friend Wim and his wife Leen and their daughter Rien, who had just come out of the reptile house. Which was what Bert and I were visiting next :)
My fave, the frill neck lizard :)
From there on we went to Noctuarium, where the night creatures live. They REALLY need to station some staff there because the amount of retards using flash photography at nocturnal animals was simply staggering.
You'd think that "nocturnal" would be the clue that flashing bright light at them wasn't the way forward, but no, obviously not.
I didn't take a single photo in there because you know: no flash!
I didn't take photos inside the bird building either, but I did take one of the building. For, much like most of the other architecture of the Zoo, it is a very pretty building.
I also didn't take photos of the birds of prey, because the cages were simply far too depressing. I did briefly play tug of war with one of the big birds because we ALWAYS play tug of war with a stick. And even though I only go there every few years, he always remembers. Very strange, but I love that bird regardless :)
Some more architecture.
My outfit, photo by Bert
Hat: ebay seller
Brooch on hat: handmade
Top: made it myself
Skirt: made it myself
Backpack: Fjällräven Kanken
Jelly sandals: asos
Accessories: handmade, Roxy, Lisbeth Dahl
And to stay in the animal theme, I got a daytime lion on Walk with Me that day, lions don't happen often :)
We had seen the extortionate prices of the café/restaurants, and not even the explorer/colonial dieselpunk theme could convince us to spend that kind of outrageous price on drinks. Especially not whilst we had 2 for 1 coupons for Starbucks around the corner from the Zoo. So before we went to Groenplaats, we quickly popped back into Central Station for drinks :)
KBC tower, aka boerentoren (farmer's tower). At some point, long ago, this was the tallest building in the world. LONG ago, clearly.
Fiesta Europa is my favourite summer market. It travels, so sometimes I'm lucky and manage to catch it a few times, but I make a point out of it to go to every Antwerp edition. It's basically a market with stands from all over Europe. The tradition is to go to one of the French stands and buy a giant onion. This year they had two kinds of giant onions, so I got one of each, and a really fancy Japanese black garlic. A very small one, because they are a whopping € 225 per kilo (obviously I paid less than € 3 for my small one, but still).
I have no idea what we'll be doing with them, but I'm sure we'll figure it out, we've still got time :)
Bert enjoying brätwurst and Paljas, a Belgian beer.
We decided to go for the 5 for € 10 offer at one of the sausage stands, so we could invited Bert's parents to come eat cheese and sausages after our London trip (they came over yesterday). We got sausage with olives, duck, spicy peppers, herbs and figs :).
This is what traffic in Antwerp on a Sunday afternoon looks like :D
On the way back to the station we went to look at the chocolate statues. The high end chocolatier often changes them, and they're always fun to go look at.
This time he had a Japanese theme going on.
And that was basically my birthday :)